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Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief June 1, 2021

01.06.2021
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Turkey 

Exiled Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker released a video detailing the Turkish government’s use of a company named Sadat to transfer weapons and drones to al Qaeda affiliates in Syria last week. Senior lawmakers of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) responded to Peker’s latest revelations by officially requesting the creation of a parliamentary commission to investigate the company, which was founded by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s former chief military advisor Adnan Tanriverdi.

The 25th Heavy Penal Court of Ankara sentenced jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas to two and a half years in prison for “insulting” a prosecutor named Yüksel Kocaman on Friday. Kocaman, who has personal ties to President Erdogan, filed a defamation case against Demirtas for remarks the latter made during his defense. Meanwhile, the Turkish government extended a ban initially implemented in 2016 on public activities for another two weeks, and Turkish police in Van arrested six members of the Kurdish solidarity association MEBYA-DER that supports the families of those killed in Turkey’s ongoing conflict with the Kurds.

The Turkish military launched an operation targeting alleged PKK militants in Bitlis Province’s Hizan town. The Turkish military typically carries out several operations in the nation’s Kurdish region per year and often implements curfews and restrictions to facilitate them.

A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. 

Iran

  • The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) confirmed two of its Peshmerga, Hadi Shexi and Ayob Sultani, were killed in clashes with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) near Mehabad and Piranshahr. The KDPI has deployed its Peshmerga to cities and villages in Iranian Kurdistan on multiple occasions since it resumed armed resistance and “civil society struggle” against the Iranian regime in March 2016.  
  • The Iranian regime continued its ongoing campaign against Kurdish political rights last week, with an Islamic Revolutionary Court in Mehabad sentencing a Kurdish activist named Saed Husseini to 40 years in prison for “rebellion.” At the same time, the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported Sanandaj’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish environmental activist named Khabat Mafakhery to four years in prison for “membership in the Kurdish Free Life Party.” Moreover, the Iranian regime charged two Kurdish labor activists, Osman Ismaeli and Mahmud Salihi, with “propaganda against the state” for organizing activities on International Workers’ Day. Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) then began investigating Kawa Hakimi, the initiator of a petition calling for the end of proceedings against Ismaeli and Salihi that was signed by at least 500 workers and activists. Lastly, Iranian security forces arrested a Kurdish man named Logman Nickzad in Marivan. 
  • On Wednesday, Iranian border guards killed a Kurdish border porter (Kolbar) named Qubad Rahmani near Kermanshah’s Sarpol Zahao and wounded another named Mahmud Rahmani near Baneh. At the same time, Iranian border guards assaulted several detained Kolbars who confessed to transporting cargo near Nowsud and Hawraman.  

Iraq

  • Turkey continued its ongoing military operations in Iraqi Kurdistan, which have killed dozens of civilians, displaced thousands, and caused numerous school closures, by striking several locations in the region’s northern areas, including Avashin, Batifa, and Kani Masi. Turkish forces also engaged in intense combat with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants near Avashin. Concurrently, recently released photos and videos of Turkish personnel cutting down thousands of trees in Iraqi Kurdistan aroused public anger and were denounced by Kurdish lawmakers. Further reporting from Kurdish media sources claimed Turkey was taking approximately 450 tons of trees per day from Iraqi Kurdistan and selling them in Turkish markets. Likewise, Turkey intends to establish a new road connecting its Kurdish province of Şırnak with Duhok Governorate’s Amedi District. 
  • Kirkuk’s security forces found several 122mm rockets prepped for launch between Kirkuk Governorate’s Hasar and Darman villages. ISIS (Da’esh) and Iranian-backed militias remain the likely suspects regarding the attempted attack, as both have carried out an increasing number of attacks on Kurds and Peshmerga positions in Iraq’s “Disputed Territories,” which have been controlled by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias since October 16, 2017.  
  • The Kurdish-owned oil company Kar plans to resume operations at Kirkuk Governorate’s Havana and Bai Hassan oil fields. Kar’s operations were previously hindered when Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias seized Kirkuk Governorate in October 2017, and since then, it has been limited to transporting a portion of the governorate’s oil to Turkey in collaboration with the Russian company Rosneft. On another note, a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation arrived in Baghdad to hold talks with several officials from the Government of Iraq (GOI), including Minister of Finance Ali Allawi, regarding the implementation of the country’s recently passed 2021 budget law.  
  • Da’esh terrorists executed a kidnapped Kurdish police officer named Jalal Baban near Qara Tapa last week. Baban and his cousin were abducted nearly 20 months ago, though the cousin was later released after a ransom was paid.

Syria

  • The Afrin Activists Network (AAN) released a monthly report detailing human rights abuses perpetrated by Turkey and its Islamist proxies in and around Afrin during May. Among other things, the report cited the deaths of several local Kurdish residents, including an elderly Kurdish woman tortured to death by Turkish-backed Islamists and the suspicious death of a Kurdish child. The report also elaborated on the construction of settlements for non-Kurds funded by Turkey, Qatar, and Kuwait. Afrin’s Kurdish population has dropped from 96 to 25 percent since the 2018 Turkish invasion.
  • A motorcycle explosion killed one civilian and injured three more in eastern al Hasakah city on Monday. Suspected Da’esh militants also assassinated a man in Raqqa Governorate’s Kasrat al Faraj on Sunday. That said, Kurdish-led local security forces (Asayesh), backed by the US-led coalition, arrested five militants in Deir Ez Zor Governorate.  
  • Turkish proxies clashed with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-affiliated Tal Tamer Military Council (TMC) in the Christian town’s suburbs. Turkish proxies also bombarded eastern Manbij, which has been the scene of ongoing tensions between the SDF and Turkey since its 2016 liberation from Da’esh, on Monday. Turkey continues to support Sunni extremists as a means of undermining the authority structures established by Kurds in northeastern Syria. 
  • Turkey’s ongoing interdiction of northeastern Syria’s water supplies from the Euphrates River has damaged farmlands and resulted in shortages of drinking water and electricity that have affected millions. Local Kurds describe Turkey’s actions as a “blockade” on the region. 
  • The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported an Iranian cultural center in al Mayadin city is now offering a free Persian language course for children and a prize of one million Syrian pounds to anyone passing the course’s Persian language test with a grade of excellent. Iran has also relocated hundreds of Iraqi and Afghan Shiite militants and their families to the town since the defeat of Da’esh and has accelerated efforts to bolster its influence throughout Syria during the Syrian Civil War. 
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